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City Council continued to receive work-plans and reports from City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and boards and commissions on Nov. 9. The relatively little business that came before the Committees and Council, with limited exceptions, met with little controversy.
Hydraulic modeling services for the water department – hardly a big ticket item, at about $32,000 per year for 3 years – did not get discussion going. Janitorial services might have done that, but City staff elected to hold the two janitorial contracts until a later Council meeting.
The Administration and Public Works Committee did have some questions about a proposed auto body and collision repair services contract. Light, medium and heavy trucks needing body work will go to Sigler’s Autobody, Inc. in Skokie. Aldermen Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, both said they wondered why a local Evanston body shop was not awarded the contract. The answer from Suzette Eggleston, interim director of public works, was simple: they did not bid. “I don’t know why they didn’t bid,” she said.
Ald. Jean-Baptiste continued to press for more local involvement in providing body work, and staff agreed to provide a report outlining efforts to include local businesses in the process.
A similar response greeted the City’s contract for snow-emergency towing. The City solicits contracts with tow trucks, and accepts the first 25 vehicles that sign up agreeing to deliver services at an hourly fixed rate of $80 for the truck and driver. In return, those 25 tow trucks are kept under retainer at $50 per truck paid in 3 installments. Ald. Jean-Baptiste asked why more Evanston trucks were not given retainers (only two of the 25 under retainer are Evanston trucks). The answer, again, came down to timely getting a bid to the City. Purchasing and Contracts Manager Jewell Jackson said the City takes the first 25 trucks that respond. Any additional trucks go on the “as needed” roster and do not receive a retainer, she added.
The Planning and Development Committee began with the rescission of landmark status for 1819 Dodge Ave., because the building has been demolished. Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, Chair of Planning and Development Committee, suggested making rescission automatic if a building has been demolished.
Next, the AMLI development, proposed for the southeast corner of Kedzie Street and Chicago Avenue, will be delayed at least a year because of economic conditions. Steve Ross of AMLI said, “I am very enthusiastic about this project, as you know. And I continue to spend a lot of time looking for financing.” He said he sees no construction funding anywhere in the Chicago area, and very little nationwide. But he said he has spoken with union pension funds, among other funding sources, and believes “we will be a priority project when the market turns around.” Unprompted, Mr. Ross added, in response to his reading about the passage of the green building ordinance requiring LEED Silver status for new developments, “LEED Silver is something we were going to do anyway, and we embrace that.”
During the affordable-housing discussion Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl asked Housing Commission to write to Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky regarding the City’s $40 million grant application, “which is in a bit of trouble at this point.”
After the meeting, Mayor Tisdahl told the RoundTable that HUD has a stated preference for proposals that come from regional entities, and CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) submitted a proposal. “They [HUD] acknowledge that the selection process is flawed, and hope to change it by next year. But by that time, stimulus funds will be gone,” she said. Hope is not lost, she said, but what already looked like an uphill battle looks even steeper. The Mayor said she encourages everyone to write to elected representatives in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Tisdahl said she had been asked by the White House to make a public statement about her opinion on health-care reform. She said she supported the health-care reform bill. “We need [health-care reform],” she added.